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Looking for suggestions to refurbish older lawn chairs

 
Debbie Ann
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I got 9 of these lawn chairs free from Craigslist about 8 years ago. What a great find!! They came from a motel/resort  and they were still all in great shape. They've gotten used constantly in my yard for the last 8 years but all the plastic is now  breaking. The thing is.... the frames are still in perfect condition. The paint hasn't even chipped off and no rust at all. So I just can't see myself sending them to a landfill, not yet. Sacrilege! I just can't do it!

If anyone has suggestions about what materials I can find, scrounge or maybe even buy to refurbish them I would appreciate your advice. And how to do it.  I'm planting out my crops now so I won't have time to do it until later this summer. But this would give me a few months to hopefully scrounge up the materials I would need. Thanks in advance.

Debbie
DSC04984.JPG
Like me... kind of old but still have a lot of life to live.
Like me... kind of old but still have a lot of life to live.
 
G Freden
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Hi Debbie, you could weave some willow wands in situ to make them into wicker chairs--it's not too hard to do;  other trees/shrubs with long flexible branches could work too.  Or use some heavy canvas material and sew a new seat and back--it could be as simple as a long piece of material with opposite edges sewn together into a rectangular tube, then slotted onto the frame.  I'm sure there are lots of other ways to make them useable again.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Have you considered refurbishing with the vinyl that has worked so well for the past few years?

amazon supplier

 
Jay Angler
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I can't see from the photo exactly how the chairs go together and that will limit your options. So my first question is can you slide fabric onto the seat section, or was the original done with propriety tools?

Next question, do these sit out in the sun all day every day?  If they do, you really need materials that can cope with that, or be genuinely cheap enough and available enough to replace regularly.

Options I can think of off the top of my head...
a) really cheap would be to ask local bike shops for their holey bike tire inner tubes. Stretch them in a circle around the frame and zip tie the ends together. To strengthen them, if there's an easy way to weave them in the "vertical" direction over the horizontal ones, that would be good. Black could be hot to sit on...
b) less cheap and possibly harder to source would be the fabric from used seat belts - you'd need a wrecking yard for that. You'd also need access to a cheap soldering iron to heat-seal the edges, and probably have to buy an awl for stitching them into loops - maybe not depending on if you could use the same fastening system as the original.
c) I've heard there's a shop called "Harbor Freight" in the states (I'm Canadian) and apparently they sell 100% canvas drop clothes for a reasonable price. This is essentially what G Freden has suggested. However, I would strongly recommend that if sewing is involved, you find seriously heavy duty thread - like a coat button thread. Humans are heavy! Again, I don't know that it would last with constant sun, so you will have to watch them carefully to prevent an accident.  I was once able to get UV stable thread from a sail company, but that was decades ago. Most thread doesn't last well in sun.

I have totally recovered lawn chairs in the past - this is a doable project. However, I was prepared to buy the expensive special UV stable fabrics, and anytime I did work for friends who wouldn't, the fabric didn't last long. The plain canvas may do well regardless, but I would actually calculate the size vs the weight and get the heaviest one you can afford. Sometimes the "best price" is actually not in the long run!
 
Debbie Ann
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Wow, thank you all for your good suggestions! I usually love putting a lot of thought into coming up with a really cheap but creative way to solve a problem like this. I'm not very artistic at all but I can be a creative problem solver. But I've been thinking about this for a couple of years now and I'm getting nowhere.

And Jay, as you mentioned, there are several difficult factors to keep in mind. Yes, they mostly sit in the hot sun all day and it's 105*+ here for 6-7 months of the year. The metal frame is expertly welded together so it will never come apart. I rent out rooms in my house. And there will be plenty of times that big people sit in these chairs. I have them placed all around my yard so people can come out and enjoy the gardens.

The most unique part of these chairs is how the vinyl was attached to the frame. You can see in the second picture that each side was wrapped 1 and ½ times around the frame. And the third picture shows the tiny little piece of metal that held it in place underneath the wrapping. I can only figure that the vinyl must have been very stretchy when it was first attached and then the chairs were heated up in some kind of kiln to shrink the vinyl down and harden it. I wish that I could do that again but I am not so talented.

G Freden, I love the idea of weaving them out of branches. I have been building lots of short wattle fences this last year. But it wouldn't last long in our heat. Canvas might be the best and most expensive suggestion but how could I secure it to the frames. What could I use that would handle this situation but not shred the canvas?

And I thank you all very much for your suggestions.
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Still sturdy frames
Still sturdy frames
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Vinyl is just wrapped around
Vinyl is just wrapped around
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The crazy way it was attached!
The crazy way it was attached!
 
Jay Angler
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OK, so the back you can just sew a "pillow case" and slide it on. I'd suggest old jeans if you can find enough to piece them together!

The Seat's a problem for sure. Two "sewing" options occur to me:
1. Sew it in place with an awl. You'd be quite good at it by the end! I'd sew casings in situ around the tube.
2. Crazy idea - sew a tube with a heavy duty zipper in the middle of one "side". Put it over the seat and zip it up so the zipper's on the bottom.
 
Debbie Ann
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Jay, thank you so much! Old denim. I hadn't thought of that. I use old denim for lots of different things. And it would hold up for quite awhile in the elements,  and I can sew denim and it could look pretty good! I can get creative about that!

And to think, believe it or not.... I retired 3 years ago and I'd been wearing sweats ever since until 6 months ago when I realized that I had gained a bit of weight and didn't fit into my old jeans any more.... so I've been on a diet and I lost 20 pounds!!! Just to fit into my old jeans! Glad that I did that but it's really nice to know that I can find a better use for them! Thank you again!!!
 
craig howard
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Seat belts.
Go to the junk yard and pull them.
Many colors to chose from.
Fat John tested and approved.
 
Debbie Ann
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Craig, That sounds like a very good idea too!! If I can figure out a good way to attach them they would be super sturdy, very economical  and colorful. They would fit right in to my funky and eclectic gardens! The next time I go to Flagstaff I will plan to spend some time at a junk yard. Thank you.
 
Jay Angler
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Debbie Ann wrote:Craig, That sounds like a very good idea too!! If I can figure out a good way to attach them they would be super sturdy, very economical  and colorful. They would fit right in to my funky and eclectic gardens!

If worse comes to worse - drill through the frame and bolt them in place. In my climate, I'd get #8 stainless, but plated might well be fine in yours. I wouldn't got too large - the pressure is not on the bolt, it's just holding the seat belt material to the frame, but if the larger the holes you drill, the more you would be weakening the metal frame. Get what are called "fender washers" - just washer with more "outside" compared to the "hole". And get some sort of locking nut rather than regular nut also.
 
craig howard
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About the same way the old ones were held on.
I melt the ends so they don't fray.
Then fold them to a point.
That way the screw goes through 4 layers.
seatbeltseat by vwfatmobile, on Flickr
 
Debbie Ann
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AWESOME GUYS, THANK YOU SO MUCH!
 
randal cranor
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Howdy,

This is old leaky fire fighting hose, like small 3/4" garden hose, light weight fabric, that I have as a "seat" on my raft frame, and as backing on a dolly.  Just another "re-useful" idea...
IMG_3236.JPG
fire hose, ends still attached
fire hose, on dolly
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fire hose on dolly
raft frame sear, ends still attached
IMG_3234.JPG
seat on raft frame
seat on raft frame
 
Lynne Cim
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I would make a simple hammock back / seat similar to a butterfly chair.  A rectangle that attaches to the top bar and the seat bar near the knees. Taught enough so you don't bottom out on the bottom bar, keeping in mind the stretch of the fabric you choose. Even something removable in canvas.  Or you macrame a seat using cotton clothes line if you have the time.  Chose a quick dry material if you want to leave them out in the elements or if you want to use cotton canvas maybe it hooks on with beaners so you can take the seat in from the rain.  

I love the idea of using an old garden hose!
 
tammy bowman
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go to thrift stores and get old mens ties and use them to make the straps make sure to starch them heavily first though. i have done this and it worked out great and was really cute and fun.
 
James Sullivan
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I thought the same as Craig. Seat belts!

You could use old belts. I've been stashing old ones mostly for the buckles.
 
Debbie Ann
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I want to thank everyone for your great suggestions. Since I have 9 chairs spread all over my gardens, some with small tables and some standing alone.... I am going to try all of these good ideas! My favorite thing is having an unusual, whimsical, eclectic garden and recycling/upcycling! I hope I can post some pictures by the end of the summer. Right now I am planting my crops and harvesting peas! Happy gardening everyone!
 
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